Opinions Sept. 23, 2021

The following Indiana Supreme Court opinion was posted after IL deadline Wednesday:
Southlake Indiana, LLC v. Lake County Assessor
21S-TA-239
Tax. Reverses the Indiana Tax Court’s ruling affirming a decision by the Indiana Board of Tax Review adjusting tax assessments for Southlake Indiana LLC for the 2011-2014 tax years. Finds that when a property’s assessment increases by more than 5% over the previous year and the Indiana board finds neither party’s assessment correct, a statutory clause requires that the assessment reverts to the assessment for the prior tax year. Also finds that because neither party met its burden of proof, section 17.2’s reversionary clause controls. Instructs the Tax Court to remand to the state board, which must enter assessments for tax years 2011 to 2014 in the amount of Southlake Mall’s 2010 assessment.

Thursday opinions
Indiana Supreme Court
Ryan Ramirez v. State of Indiana
20S-LW-430
Life without parole. Affirms Ryan Ramirez’s conviction of murdering 23-month-old P.H. and neglecting 3-year-old R.H., resulting in serious bodily injury, and his sentence to life without parole. Finds that the seizure of a surveillance system recorder did not violate the state or federal constitutions, and the Madison Circuit Court did not abuse its discretion by excluding evidence of Kayla Hudson’s prior bad acts, nor were Ramirez’s substantial rights affect. Also finds that the trial court was not required to find a legal lacuna to give a supplemental jury instruction, the wording of the instruction was not reversible error and Ramirez waived his argument about the way the instruction was given. Finally, finds the statutory LWOP factors were sufficiently supported, his sentence did not violate the Indiana Constitution and revision is not warranted under Indiana Appellate Rule 7(B).

Indiana Court of Appeals
Lila Ruth Meyer as Trustee and Other Named Successor Trustees of the Lila Ruth Meyer Revocable Trust Dated March 27, 2017 v. City of Rushville; Jeffery L. Meyer v. City of Rushville
21A-PL-277, 21A-PL-278
Civil plenary. Reverses the Rush Circuit Court’s order of condemnation of land owned by the Lila Ruth Meyer Revocable Trust and Jeffery Meyer in Rush County. Finds the city of Rushville lacked two of three critical components mandated by the Legislature for notices in eminent domain cases and that it indicated a deadline applicable for an answer to a civil complaint rather than the deadline for objections. Thus, finds the necessary notice never issued and the trial court erred in issuing an order of condemnation. Remands for further proceedings.

Nikitia D. Shelton v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
21A-CR-484
Criminal. Reverses Nikitia Dominique Shelton’s conviction for Class A misdemeanor domestic battery. Finds the St. Joseph Superior Court applied the wrong standard to Shelton’s self-defense claim. Finds the evidence is insufficient to negate Shelton’s self-defense claim under the proper standard, as she did not act in a manner disproportionate to the attack she faced in pushing away an angry, spitting assailant. Judge Elizabeth Tavitas dissents with separate opinion.

In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: D.D. and L.D. (Minor Children), C.D. (Father) and R.F. (Mother) v. Indiana Department of Child Services
21A-JT-635
Juvenile termination of parental rights. Affirms the termination of parents C.D. and R.F.’s parental rights to their two children. Finds the Jennings Circuit Court’s judgment was not clearly erroneous. Also finds there is sufficient evidence to support the termination.

Dionel Juan Mateo v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
21A-CR-800
Criminal. Affirms Dionel Juan Mateo’s 40-year sentence for his conviction of Level 1 felony child molesting. Finds Mateo’s sentence is not inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and the character of the offender.

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